Review by Hawk45
"Stem Cell research is evil. Murder is good. I am overthrowing t3h government riet nao!"
Democracy is interesting because you get a very macro level snapshot of the nation you're running, and while you can't affect policy directly, you can enable certain directives (such as state-run schools and hospitals), and fund them. Each of these policies has an effect on whether people will vote for or against your party depending on how well you have served their interests. Each citizen can also be of more than one demographic. It is possible to have an environmentalist drinker who is also a parent, for example. So alienating one group at the expense of another group might not be enough for you to lose the election. However, it might very well be enough to get you blown up, because that's just how religious extremists roll.
I wanted my country to be economically viable, so I pumped stem cell research to give myself more of a technological advantage, and BAM! Some religious nut blows me up two turns later, causing a pretty abrupt end to the game, which makes sense. I actually think this is a cool feature because it means that if you mess with a group too much, they might revolt instead (which happens). Unfortunately, this seems to be not have been fully implemented because it doesn't seem that any group other than the religious have any sort of terrorist tendencies. Maybe this was the developers were going for, which seems rather bigoted and stereotypical.
The game falls short in a lot of ways. I found that through solid technology, healthcare, and school funding, I could create an economy that was on the rise, despite a global economic meltdown, so I keep my taxes low, and start enacting policies as I can so that I'm not hoarding all the excess revenue. You know, generally making life better for my citizens and keeping my 92% approval rating. Then I have a 6 billion defecit, despite a positive economy and a growing GDP. The problem? The game puts a cap on GDP. Why? I have no idea. So I decided to cut military funding and some other funding and now my entire party vanished, despite that 92% of them wanted to vote for me next election. What? Yeah.
Also, each election you need to make two promises to the citizens, or be held accountable (what it means to fail on said promises I don't know because I never played that far). They seem random. Despite good healthcare, and fair taxes, I was still asked to slash taxes or increase life expectancy or some other thing, despite that my country is pretty much a utopia. (albeit with bad air pollution and an asthma epidemic) I can't see why, when 92% of the people agree that I am doing a slam bang job of running the country, that I'd need to promise them much. This can be pretty game breaking because when you already have given your country everything, how can you do more than that?
There are, however, a lot of interesting things in the simulation. Different countries have different problems. It is possible to play as America, where the debt, income, and expesnes are much higher, but instead of starting off at a technological disadtvantage like you will with the first nation, you will actually start off technologically superior. Also, some countries do not have compulsory voting, which I imagine (I only played the first country) could make for some interesting elections.
This is a game that promised a lot, but failed to deliver. Given the climate it's dealing with, I'm not at all surprised.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/10
Game Release: Democracy (US, 04/01/05)
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